Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Start your day with your favorite newspaper online

I'm impressed by the Buffalo News' initiative to give Western New Yorkers a dose of the latest news to start their every morning.

"Good morning, Buffalo" - this link kicked off today for presumably thousands of Buffalonians. First posted at 12:11 a.m. - and presumably updated later - it gives a breakdown of the latest "overnight" news and keeps track of current events in the near future. It also conveniently starts with a weather report.

Now THAT'S a way for newspapers to use their Web sites and do something they just can't accomplish in the print version.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Revolutionary technology

Journalism of the future is slowly but surely taking form.

Why get a big, fat newspaper delivered to you every day, when you can get an e-mail every morning with the top headlines for the day, when you can subscribe to an RSS feed and watch developments with ease with a utility like Google Reader, when you can log online to your favorite news site and see breaking news as it happens?

All great technological advancements for the industry. But that's just the beginning.

How would you like to type in your address and have a little map, showing the latest news around your very own neighborhood? Or read a story about something going on in your neighborhood, and be able to see an advertisement for a local business just a few blocks away from you?

Chi-Town Daily News is experimenting with such technology. It's an online-only newspaper in Chicago where I'm interning this school quarter.

And then there's EveryBlock. You put in an address, and not only will it show you news in the area (1 block away, 3 blocks away, or 8 blocks away from the address you give - you choose), it'll show restaurants, other happenings, and even the latest crime from that area according to the local police department. It's only in select cities right now, but one of them is in Chicago, hence how I found out about it.

Hyperlocal at its best. This type of technology is clearly the technology of the future for online journalism.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Great quote

I was flipping through some of my undergrad papers, and I found a great quote on the current state of online journalism in one of my essays. Now that I'm really focusing on online journalism as a career, going for my Masters in a program that emphasizes online, it just really clicks with me and I love it.

“Comparing the present state of newspaper Web sites to future Web sites is like comparing an American Indian village on Manhattan Island to the New York City of today. As technology advances, a whole new world of online edition doodads will become available at a finger-tap.”
-Connecticut Post columnist Charles Walsh

I think that's really true. This is only the beginning. The original column, "Web edition has latest bells, whistles," can be found here for those interested. It was published on Feb. 20, 2007.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Las Vegas Sun ahead of the curve

Just a few weeks ago, Las Vegas Sun multimedia producer Zach Wise accepted a promotion to the top of the journalism world. He's now a multimedia producer at the New York Times.

Mr. Wise does extraordinary work. He earned an M.A. in Photojournalism at Ohio University and launched into a highly successful career. Interactive multimedia, online video and audio, Wise has done it all, and he's done it brilliantly. He's definitely someone I admire, as I pursue an M.A. in Journalism at DePaul and hope to head toward the online world of newspapers, as well.

Wise's Web site, www.digitalartwork.net, shows some of the great stuff he was up to at the Las Vegas Sun. Some really fascinating projects - my favorite is the fireworks one, which can be seen here. Wise was a big part of why the L.V. Sun is so ahead of the game when it comes to online journalism. Credit the Greenspun Media Group as well - an independent and privately-owned, LOCAL company that heads up the Sun and a cluster of other publications in the Las Vegas market. They took the initiative to expand their Web coverage, and they've led the way in this field to the point where the N.Y. Times is taking notice.

Below I've posted some screenshots of some of the cool stuff the Las Vegas Sun is up to. And I have to give some credit to Mindy McAdam's online journalism blog...that's where I first found out about the Las Vegas Sun's online initiatives, and as a result stumbled upon Mr. Wise's Web site and his work.

Interactive map, showing "The Strip" over the years

In-depth weather report with animated graphics and weather history

Useful databases, calculators, and other applications

In-depth high school sports coverage with audio/video and more - including a PLAYER PAGE for every H.S. athlete in Las Vegas!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Just how big is social networking?

Pretty big, according to Google Trends. It's been consistently growing in popularity over the last few years, and it looks due to get even bigger.

Google Trends monitors the ups and downs of Web site traffic. I spent a good 10-15 minutes looking at a number of sites, including traditional media and newspapers like the New York Times, CNN, and my hometown paper the Buffalo News. Such sites have so many ups and downs in their traffic - each looks like a roller coaster. And the bad news is that they've all pretty much hovered around the same spot the last three or four years. Not much of a trend upward.

Social networking sites? All on the up. Check these diagrams out, again per Google Trends. Very, very interesting, and telling of what the future may hold. And worth noting for journalists, as our industry continues to look for a better model to serve the public online:

Facebook


Twitter


Linked In

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bad news for years, but newspapers survive

Haven't updated in a bit, so just a quick editorial.

An Oct. 2005 Los Angeles Times article wrote about newspapers' grim outlook for the future. But three years later, newspapers remain. They've continued to cut back and have reallocated many of their resources, but they're still here. No major newspapers have folded, as far as I know, since that time.

Could 2009 be the worst yet? Rumors around here in Chicago, and across the blogosphere, point to the Sun-Times (the Chicago Tribune's big competitor) perhaps folding by then. But will it happen, or will Sun-Times retool, refuel, and come out stronger for it?

Until newspapers actually start folding, I just think it's worth saying that they're still here, they're adjusting like mad, and I think the big corporate ownership is starting to get it too...that they have a long way to go and adjustments will need to continue to be made. And that's why newspapers should continue to survive, for years to come.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Expanding my network

I'm meeting some real interesting people in online journalism, thanks to the suggestion of University of Florida professor Lauren Hertel to look outside the box from the normal Web sites I hit up daily, like Facebook and HockeyBuzz.

I joined the Online News Association for an affordable student rate of $25 for the year. That has given me access to a database of hundreds of people also involved with online journalism, which I can search by place, employer, whatever, to make connections. Unfortunately I'm the only student at DePaul currently subscribed, as far as I can tell, but there's a lot of contacts in Chicago listed.

I also hopped onto the social network Wired Journalists. There's about 2,500 members there, and this site includes various groups, forums, and of course tons of member profiles for journalists interested in new media. It looks like a great place to network, and it looks like a great place to do some reading too -- I've already found several fascinating blogs there.

These will likely become part of my daily dose when I wake up in the morning. They'll allow me to connect with people like me, with similar interests and ambitions, in this ever-changing world of journalism.

If you're interested in online journalism like me, and you're not a member of ONA, take a look at the organization. And if you're looking for something that won't cost you a penny, stop by Wired Journalists and get connected with likewise professionals! Certainly can't hurt.

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